I’ll preface this post by saying that we totally forgive and understand anyone who may have accidentally said something insensitive. (Also, all of my examples below are not necessarily things people have said to me) When you’re not in it, you’re not aware of it, and that’s ok. But for future reference, whether you are going through infertility (IUIs, IVF, Egg or sperm donor, surrogacy, adoption and on…) or know someone who is, let me share a few do’s and dont’s:
First and foremost, please think before you speak. Saying things that are not helpful can be hurtful. I’m almost certain that I too was one of those people pre-infertility. Unless you have had first hand experience with this stuff, you have no idea how sensitive it is for people who are going through it.
We have come a long way in our journey. I understand you may not agree with what we are doing (lucky for you, it doesn’t affect your life!), or you may never picture yourself using an egg donor, (and for your sake I hope you are never in this position) but we do not want to hear it. We have made our decision. This is our path to a family. It’s kind of like telling people what you plan on naming your kids and someone saying “ugh! That name.” No one wants to hear that you don’t like their baby’s name.
We don’t want pity. We just need support. Do things that are helpful, whatever that may mean.
If someone has used an egg donor, please don’t say, “So let me get this straight, you won’t really be related to them.” If you say this, I/we reserve the right to slap you/never talk to you again. I will be taking this embryo that is smaller than 1/16th of a poppy seed, and growing it. If I’m lucky I’ll push it out too. It will grow because of me. What makes someone a Mom? I’d like to think its a lot more than genetics.
If you are genetically related to me, this obviously means that genetically you will not be related to our child/children. I have no doubt that you will feel the same love for them regardless. With that said, please don’t tell me how sad it is that they aren’t related to you by blood. Believe me, it’s hard enough for me to deal with, let alone have someone else say it. Please keep those thoughts in your head if you have them.
Sometimes we just need to vent. We aren’t necessarily looking for answers. Please don’t ask me if I have tried to go Vegan or tried the grapefruit diet. No, really, don’t. There is nothing within my power or anyone else’s that can make me have more eggs or good eggs. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. I can try every diet, yoga posture, acupuncture– it just doesn’t matter. When a woman is going through this, part of the pain is that it’s totally beyond her control. When someone suggests “did you try XYZ?” it makes the person who is going through it feel as if they aren’t doing enough to take control of the situation.
Please don’t tell me that you know someone who tried and tried and adopted and then got pregnant. As much as you think this is helpful and inspiring, at this point, it’s not. This is our reality NOW. We are taking one day at a time.
When I explain to you that the donor gets paid for their time, please don’t insist she must have just done it just for the money. Of course that is a big factor for a woman to even consider this process. It’s not like men who donate sperm and it’s a quick thing. She had to go through months of testing and shots and appointments, not to mention the side effects of all the drugs. It is no different than my IVF cycles. It was very important to us to find someone who appeared to be donating for a bigger cause. She should be compensated for her time. She also chose to be in the donor ID program. If someone was doing this just for “quick” money, they would never voluntarily opt in to be contacted in 18 years by her potential offspring. And yes, it matters. It not only matters to us as the intended parents picking a donor, but research shows it really matters to the child as to why their donor decided to donate.
Never ask someone if they are pregnant. Why they aren’t pregnant yet? And my favorite…(drum roll, please) What are you waiting for? Yes, people do this. Refer back to my “are you calling me fat?” post.
If we appear to be down, suggest something fun to do to get out of the house. Remind me to take one day at a time.
It is okay to check in and ask how I am doing today. Because, really, each moment is different. I have felt like a crazy person at times, having felt every emotion under the sun within a minute.
Please for the love of Jehova, don’t say “Oh man..sorry you aren’t pregnant, that sucks. I was really hoping you would be so I could look forward to having a baby around.” Yeah, I know it sucks. Believe me I know. You reminding me doesn’t help.
Using a donor egg is different, and not the norm. Please don’t make me feel worse about the fact that I have no good eggs. Please don’t tell me how you could never do it. Just…STFU and keep your thoughts in your head, please and thank you 🙂
DO ask questions if we are having a conversation and you don’t understand something. It is okay to ask. I’d rather explain something than have someone be misinformed.
If we are being quiet it’s probably because we don’t want to talk about it. It is nothing personal. Please respect our space.
And lastly (although, I’m sure my list will grow): don’t say “it will happen, just give it time” or “you are just stressed, just don’t worry so much.” Would you say that to someone who had cancer? Just don’t worry and you will be healed. PRAY! God will fix it. I highly suggest you look up what the said infertility issue is before you say such a thing. It is a disease and, no, worrying less won’t make me pregnant.
Now that we have decided to use a donor, it gets tricky for some people on how to refer to NEL. We understand it is knew to everyone so there may be an adjustment period. We prefer and ask that you just call her the donor. Not the “real” mom or the other mom. She’s a donor. That is what she is. She gave us an egg so we can have a chance at being parents. A huge “gift” but she is still just the donor for now. It is important to be mindful of the language you use and how you talk about her, especially when our future children are around. Little ears pick up on more than you may think.